NB-IoT – the cellular LPWAN

NB-IoT – the cellular LPWAN

Rohde & Schwarz offers comprehensive test solutions to cover the most demanding NB-IoT test requirements – from design to production and deployment

First specified by 3GPP in Release 13, NB-IoT is the most suitable mobile network technology for IoT applications requiring exceptionally deep coverage and extremely low power consumption. These applications are typically charaterized by low data rates and moderate reaction times of a few seconds, such as smart metering, connected trash cans, bikes, bee farms or mouse traps. The first network deployments began back in late 2017 and global commercial rollouts started in 2018. NB-IoT can be deployed inside an LTE carrier, in the LTE guard band and as a standalone solution. In the future, the very flexible numerology of 5G NR will also facilitate 5G in-band operation for NB-IoT.

The unique feature set of NB-IoT

In a nutshell, NB-IoT can be characterized as cellular LPWAN technology operating in downlink within 180 kHz (one PRB) and a 15 kHz subcarrier spacing and in uplink typically with a 3.75 kHz or 15 kHz single-tone transmission. In order to meet the additional 20 dB maximum coupling loss (MCL) requirement, NB-IoT uses coverage enhancement techniques such as power boosting in downlink or subframe repetition in both uplink and downlink. A battery life of more than 10 years calls for specific power saving features like PSM, eDRX or release assistance indication (RAI). Moreover, the introduction of NB-IoT and LTE-M required an optimized core architecture to be specified that allows, for example, the transmission of user data via the control plane and early data transmission (EDT).

Your NB-IoT test challenges

NB-IoT largely reuses familiar features and techniques from LTE. Hence, the majority of test applications are very similar to testing an LTE modem. However, specific LPWAN application features require particular attention. For example, detailed analysis and optimization of power consumption under different configurations and operational models is highly recommend to ensure a battery life of more than 10 years. Operations under extreme coverage conditions require best-in-class RF and antenna designs, which are ideally verified by over-the-air testing. It is also recommended to analyze the impact of different CE levels on power consumption and latency as well as operation under different fading conditions. End-to-end application testing and, in particular, verifying secure and private communications behavior of NB-IoT devices is also of interest.

Benefits of Rohde & Schwarz NB-IoT test solutions

  • Complete set of solutions covering tests for NB-IoT base stations, chipsets, modules and devices
  • Test solutions for every area – from R&D to production and service
  • Best-in-class solutions for conformance, preconformance and operator acceptance testing

Related products

R&S®CMW500 protocol conformance tester

The ideal tool – used by all major IoT design companies and test labs to verify and certify correct IoT signaling behavior.

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R&S®CMW290 functional radio communication tester

The cost-efficient test solution for functional testing of cellular IoT devices and modules supporting NB-IoT and LTE-M.

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R&S®SMBV100B vector signal generator

An ideal combination of performance and usability that supports the generation of NB-IoT uplink and downlink signals.

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R&S®FPL1000 spectrum analyzer

Fast and simple NB-IoT spectrum analysis with solid RF performance, lightweight design and a small footprint.

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Free NB-IoT poster
Get your free NB-IoT poster

Would you like an overview of the NB-IoT specification in line with 3GPP Releases 13 and 14? Sign up and receive your free poster.

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Related resources

Application card: NB-IoT field-to-lab testing with R&S®CMWcards

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White paper: Narrowband Internet of Things

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Let’s talk IoT – Insights into LTE-M in 3GPP Release 14

Video: Let’s talk IoT – Insights into NB-IoT in 3GPP Release 14

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Video: The R&S®FPL1000 spectrum analyzer analyzes NB-IoT signals

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Application card: R&S®CMWcards simplifies verifying your NB-IoT OTDOA positioning design

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Related topics

IoT testing

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NB-IoT network testing

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